SHARE
COPY LINK

WEATHER

Macron arrives in hurricane-hit Caribbean

French President Emmanuel Macron traveled Tuesday to the hurricane-hit Caribbean, to join the Dutch king who has expressed shocked over the devastation on the worst-hit territories.

Macron arrives in hurricane-hit Caribbean
AFP

Macron's visit to the islands of St Martin and St Barts comes almost a week since Hurricane Irma roared over the region as a maximum Category Five storm, leaving at least 10 dead on French territory and a wide trail of destruction.

Authorities have begun evacuating locals and tourists from the hardest-hit French, British and Dutch territories in the Caribbean where many have complained about a breakdown in law and order and widespread shortages of food, water and electricity.

READ ALSO:

Dutch King Willem-Alexander spent a night on the Dutch side of the divided island of St Martin on Monday and will travel on to other territories that bore the brunt of one of the most powerful storms on record.

“Even from the plane I saw something I have never seen before,” the Dutch royal told the NOS public newscaster. “I have seen proper war as well as natural disasters before, but I've never seen anything like this”.

“Everywhere you look there's devastation, you see the collapse,” he added.

Like the French and Dutch governments, Britain has also faced criticism for failing to anticipate the scale of the disaster caused by Irma.

Under pressure to be more responsive, foreign minister Boris Johnson is expected to travel to the region on Tuesday for a visit to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

According to the latest official figures, Irma left 10 people dead and seven missing on the French islands, four dead on Dutch territories and six dead on British ones.

Macron's plane touched down in Guadeloupe Tuesday enroute to St Martin.

“He needs to come to look around, so that he realises the horror here,” one local on St Martin, Peggy Brun, told AFP.

Long queues formed Monday at the airport on the Dutch side of the island as people waited to be evacuated.
   
“Here at the gates (to the airport) they don't know anything,” Brigitte van der Posch, 46, told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper, adding that the evacuation was “chaotic”.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

SHOW COMMENTS